London Has Fallen Directed by Babak Najafi
Published Mar 03, 2016Gerard Butler must have done something really terrible in his past life, because his filmography feels like the cinematic equivalent of being sentenced to purgatory.
Still, there's a certain charm to the 46-year-old Scotsman, due in large part to the fact that he doesn't seem to take himself, or his work, too seriously. Neither does his audience, apparently; 2013's Olympus Has Fallen raked in well over twice the amount it cost to make at the box office worldwide, even though it was the worst looking (and critically rated) of two White House disaster flicks to come out that year alone (the second being Roland Emmerich's equally action-packed White House Down).
Now, three years after audiences were first introduced to fiery presidential guard Mike Banning (Butler), American leader Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his second in command, Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the trio are back in London Has Fallen, a sequel that attempts to capitalize on a larger market by setting its action squarely in the British capital (in 2014, the Hollywood Reporter suggested reaching a wider international audience was likely the reason behind the move) and injecting enough European flair to keep things interesting.
Taking over this time around for Antoine Fuqua is Swedish filmmaker Babak Najafi, and while he doesn't exactly have massive shoes to fill, London Has Fallen is certainly more ambitious than its predecessor.
Inspired by the rising technological side of modern warfare (i.e. drones) and increasingly hostile and aggressive terrorist groups (ISIS among them), London Has Fallen finds Banning and Asher away from the land of the free and overseas (a place, judging by their panicked stares, they find absolutely terrifying) to attend the British Prime Minister's funeral. Something seems amiss right away, and surprise, it turns out his death was part of a master plan by a shadowy terrorist organization seeking retribution from a previous attack. The whole city is thrown into disarray, and Banning is the only one who can save them (and get the President back home to safety).
Like most mainstream action movies, Najafi ultimately runs into some issues due to the sheer scale of his movie's carnage (some of the CGI seems closer to a Command & Conquer cut scene than anything you'd find this decade), and after a while, the non-stop violence and overt, mindless patriotism is rather mind-numbing.
That being said, this is the kind of movie that (let's face it) would rather you check all logical thinking at the door. If you're willing to, you'll be entertained, but if not, don't even think about stepping through it.